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Moderna and GSK advance coronavirus vaccine candidates

Developments come amid rapidly growing cases across the globe


Moderna and GlaxoSmithKline are leading the race to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, with both companies advancing candidates forward.

Biotech company Moderna announced yesterday that its has released the first batch of its vaccine – mRNA-1273 – for human use. The vaccine has been sent to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be used in a planned phase 1 study in the US.

“The collaboration across Moderna, with NIAID, and with CEPI has allowed us to deliver a clinical batch in 42 days from sequence identification,” said Juan Andres, chief technical operations and quality officer at Moderna.

“This would not have been possible without our Norwood manufacturing site, which uses leading-edge technology to enable flexible operations and ensure high quality standards are met for clinical-grade material,” he added.

GSK has also announced an update on its development of a vaccine targeting the novel coronavirus – now known as COVID-19. The company has partnered with China-based biotech company Clover Biopharmaceuticals on its protein-based coronavirus vaccine candidate, named COVID-19 S-Trimer.

GSK will provide Clover with its pandemic adjuvant system for further evaluation of S-Trimer in preclinical studies, with the aim of rapidly scaling-up and producing large quantities of the potential coronavirus vaccine.

Drug developers are racing to develop vaccines and therapeutics targeting COVID-19 as concerns grow around the world that the infection could become a pandemic level threat.

Both Sanofi and Johnson and Johnson, in collaboration with the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), are respectively developing vaccine candidates against COVID-19.

However, the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently warned “about the potential for large donations to be channeled towards vaccine development, depriving the response of much-needed funds for simple public health interventions that can save lives now”.

He added that while “we need vaccines, that’s important...we need to strike a balance, it’s not either-or”.

Aside from vaccines, Gilead has offered its investigational antiviral drug remdesivir for clinical trials in China – the drug has been identified as showing promise against the virus, and will be evaluated against COVID-19.

The drug was originally being developed as a treatment for the infectious diseases Ebola and Marbug virus. Although Gilead allegedly owns all patents for the drug, including for coronaviruses, that did not stop Chinese pharma company BrightGene from successfully copying the drug for use in China.

However, despite successfully copying and manufacturing the drug, BrightGene has said it will not launch the drug until it has received licensing from Gilead, conducted clinical trials and obtained regulatory approval.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

25th February 2020

From: Research



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